On May 20-24, 2015, the Wilson Industrial Air Center in Wilson, NC became one of the busiest airports in the country. RC jet enthusiasts from across the country descended upon this airport to fly off it’s huge main runway and over the wide open expanse of obstacle-free property that once served as a military training base. Event organizers Larry Lewis (CD) and myself once again worked with very supportive city/airport officials and a crack team of hard working volunteers to plan and execute this well orchestrated jet fly-in.
The photo to the left shows the perfect layout that the venue promotes. The wide, center taxiway stretching from the FBO to the runway was flanked with pilot tents and their aircraft lined the edges of the pavement so that the public could stroll by and examine them up close. A barrier fence kept non-pilots a safe distance from startup area and flight line but bleachers positioned at show center kept them up front with an unobstructed view of the action. This was most appreciated by our guests whom we introduced to our awesome hobby with professionalism and flair. Jeff Stubbs’ complete video from which the image was taken can be found by clicking this link.
The weather was beautiful and the pilots kept the six flight stations busy for nearly the entire five days. The number and variety of jets was stunning as was the skill that was demonstrated in their flight. The equipment and airframes have evolved to a level that promotes frequent, safe operation of these high performance aircraft. And this adds up to many, many trouble-free and impressive flights. It also turns the event into an “airshow” for the crowd who, frankly, were just astounded by what they were witnessing. Of course, the pilots have a knack for presentation in such an environment and pulled out the stops with smoke, speed, and aerobatic skill.
Since the best-of-the-best jet pilots were in attendance, several spontaneous “showcase” flights occurred during the event. This included a historic simultaneous flight of five Skymaster F-104’s that are pictured in the header image above. On the other end of the spectrum was a comical mass launch of twelve Eflite FJ-2 Fury EDF jets seen to the left. And just about everything in between was experienced at the 2015 rally. There was just way too much fun to describe here but as they say, “a picture tells a thousand words”. So be sure to visit our “First in Flight” RC Jet Rally Facebook page for hundreds of fantastic photos by our good friend John Romero and more accounts of the action. And be sure to “like” us!
We were very honored to have AMA President Bob Brown, Executive Director Dave Mathewson, and District IV VP Jay Marsh on hand to not only enjoy the event, but also to engage in constructive discussions with AMA members, industry leaders, and the “Jet Pilots Organization (JPO)” special interest group officers Bob Klenke (Pres.) and District VP, Ron Stahl. It is clear that the hobby, and particularly the high-performance jet segment, face challenges with the onslaught of changing FAA regulation of unmanned aircraft. Our discussions made it clearer that the proactive and determined efforts of these gentlemen and all the AMA/JPO staff will keep up the fight to preserve our right to continue safe enjoyment of this fantastic hobby for many years to come.